THE founder of a Romsey cafe and art gallery that has been forced to shut has bemoaned the lack of financial help.

As previously reported, Rum's Eg in Romsey is closing down and has blamed the current works closing off Bell Street for presenting the 'final straw'.

Founder Siriol Sherlock has said the cafe would have needed £20,000 per year to continue developing its business that began in 2012.

She said that despite the support from both Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire County Council, the cafe was turned down by a number of grants and other applications in a bid to keep the business going.

Siriol said: "I was deeply disappointed by the lack of funding available for the arts and our project, I and a wonderful supportive volunteer tried many avenues and spent months on laborious applications – some were highly praised and recommended for approval but the money wasn't there.

"Our amazing manager and staff, supported by volunteers, tried so hard to be completely self-sustaining from the income we generated. I think I now have to accept that it is not possible for craft galleries or arts centres to survive without a bit of financial help.

"If we had been funded just £20,000 a year, Rum's Eg could have developed further, been strengthened and survived long-term."

Siriol also said that there was a "small possibility" that the cafe and workshop studio on the top floor of the Bell Street building could be retained by future leaseholders.

Community groups that use the facilities include Rum's Eg singers, TeaPoets and Prescription Arts.

Siriol added: "People poured in for the last visit just to give us all a hug, bring cards and gifts and say 'thank you and goodbye'. Many were in tears. I am delighted but also very sad that Rum's Eg touched so many lives but is no longer there.

"It was never easy and this last challenge of Bell Street closing in September for so long was just too great."

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Roy Perry, said all measures were taken with businesses on Bell Street to minimise disruption for the closure, which has been in place since September, and it scheduled to open next month.

He said: "I know great care has been taken to consult with traders to agree ways to minimise any disruption.

"The county council actively promoted across its social media channels...that businesses remained open."